A few years ago, I was stuck in a constant self-care cycle.
I didn’t feel good. In my body, specifically. I think I probably described myself as happy overall, but I struggled with frequent headaches, digestive issues, chronic tightness and tension, anxiety, and seasonal affective disorder.
I was constantly looking for answers from others, including friends, family, my partner at the time, and holistic practitioners. I read a lot of books. I tried what worked for other people. I would oscillate, budget depending, between physical therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, yoga, herbalists, naturopaths, etc. etc.
Nothing got me from stuck to unstuck. I stayed in this state of feeling like there should be more to life than this constant, simmering state of unease. I had this feeling that there was more peace, more joy, more something available out there but I had no idea how to get to it.
Eventually, after a bout with giardia and some resulting chronic digestive issues got bad enough, I found my way to an Ayurvedic practitioner who seemed like she could help me. I was 100% committed, ready for her to help me fix my digestion. I followed everything she recommended – diet, herbs, Ayurvedic protocols I’d never heard of before like tongue scraping, oil self-massage, and more. My body had had enough, and was ready for change – real, lasting transformation towards health and wholeness.
And, just like that, in the course of two months, everything changed. As the herbs and the diet worked their magic, what I thought my life was, any illusions that I'd been clinging to, and what I was desperately trying to be right for me shed away. What remained was the core of my being, my true nature, my true voice, and Truth (not coincidentally, Ayurveda means truth, knowledge, wisdom of life).
I had been looking for someone to fix my digestion. What I got, though much of me was very unwilling, was an opportunity to reset my life towards more wholeness- not just my physical health but my emotional and spiritual health as well.
I started to follow the Truth that was being revealed, to listen to it, to get to know it. I was curious about that Truth.
I followed it away from the structures of my life as I had known it, the life I’d created for myself, leaving behind what was no longer and acknowledging its passing with grace and gratitude. I left the relationship I was in, the community I had built, the friends and the job I loved. To this day, leaving behind the people and places and life I loved dearly remains the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I followed Truth to the shores of Iona, Scotland where I was introduced to the power of women’s circles, the power of intentionality in nature, the power of singing on the shores, of sitting in the trees, of listening to the wisdom all around me in nature.
I followed it to new friends and teachers who opened up worlds I never knew existed, wonder-filled worlds of mysticism and animism and beauty.
I followed it back to my home, the beautiful farm that four generations of my family inhabit. I followed it to the rivers and the fields that I traversed, singing, as a child, now home to my new, fully whole adult self, still singing and dancing.
I followed it into my writing, into my business as I explore my purpose for being here on this planet at this particular moment in history.
Honestly, I followed it into more joy and bliss and peace than I ever imagined possible.
And I’ll continue to follow Truth through the inevitable ups and downs of this wild and crazy and beautiful journey of life, with the life that’s been entrusted to me held gently in my hands as I look up, heart-led, soul-centered, mind-supported, following the sound of Truth into the vast ocean of the unknown. What I’ve learned along the way is that I can’t rely on anyone else to fix me, to make me whole, or to help me find peace. I had to choose that for myself. I have brought healing to myself.
I share this now for a few reasons. One, to reflect on my own path and bring awareness to both the loss and the positive changes in my life as a result of the challenging, grief-filled, joy-fueled journey I’ve been on.
Two, to share what is possible. Wherever you are stuck right now, you’re not alone and you can always choose Truth. That might mean leaving parts of yourself behind, parts of what you thought you were, or what you thought was possible. This can show up in small ways, and in large ways. Often, those small ways can look like self-care.
When I talk about self-care, which is a term I’m not entirely comfortable with, one that I know is sometimes overused and cliché, here’s what I mean:
Step 1 - Notice that maybe you need something different in your life. Maybe you’re experiencing physical, emotional or spiritual pain. Or feel stuck, anxious, depressed. You’re looking for something. The first step is naming this. Example: I’m noticing that I’m irritated right now.
Step 2 – Know what you need. This takes self-awareness, a willingness to commit to continued self-discovery, and curiosity. It also takes time. Sometimes, you just something in the moment, like a walk outside by yourself. Other times, you may need a larger shift in your life - a different job, or to change the way you’re interacting with your current one. Example: I need a moment alone to reset my nervous system.
Step 3 - Give yourself what you need. This is the taking-action step. This i